Rapid reaction: Iowa survives another close call against Nebraska as Hawkeyes improve to 4-2
Final score: #24 Iowa 26 Nebraska 20
Quick recap: This was a Nebraska-Iowa game. A close contest with neither team willing to give an inch. And at the end of the day, it was the Hawkeyes who came out on top. Again. Iowa jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, thanks to stellar defense and a beautiful drive to close out the 1st quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Petras to Tyrone Tracy Jr. But Nebraska didn’t go away, instead scratching and clawing in the 2nd quarter to tie the game at 13-13 at half. The Huskers scored on three consecutive possessions — two field goals by Connor Culp and a QB sneak touchdown run by Adrian Martinez to close out the 2nd quarter. Nebraska carried that momentum into the 3rd quarter and Rahmir Johnson gave the Huskers a 20-13 advantage thanks to a 12-yard touchdown run. it was the Cornhuskers’ first lead against Iowa in the Scott Frost era. It was all Hawkeyes after that. Iowa scored on a 2-yard run by Mekhi Sargent and Keith Duncan added a pair of field goals to build the 26-20 lead. Nebraska had one last opportunity to tie or take the lead, but Chauncey Golston forced a sack-fumble on Martinez, which was recovered by Zach VanValkenburg to close the game.
Key moment: It’s really hard to top that play by Golston and VanValkenburg, considering the circumstances. Duncan had just missed his first field goal of the game and Nebraska had momentum. The ball was in Iowa territory and it looked like the Huskers were heading towards the end zone. But the big hit by Golston and the awareness by VanValkenburg to haul in the football ended the game.
Key player: Duncan missed a key field goal late in the game, but we’ll still give him the nod. He converted on 4-of-5 field goal attempts and totaled 14 points in the game, more than half of Iowa’s scoring total. Duncan is soon going to be known as the Cornhusker Killer in Iowa City.
Key stat: This game was about as even as it gets, but the one difference was Nebraska had two turnovers in the game and Iowa only had one. And, with the second turnover coming at such a critical time, it proved to be the most impactful statistic, and moment, of the rivalry bout.
What it means for Iowa (4-2): Iowa probably wishes it could go back in time and get a rematch with Purdue and Northwestern. While there are obviously no guarantees, the Hawkeyes are playing as well as anyone in the B1G right now and would probably have a legitimate shot to win the B1G West in any other year. The good news for the Hawkeyes? They still have Wisconsin on the schedule, a team they’ve lost five-straight games against. Maybe this is the year Iowa takes down the Badgers.
What it means for Nebraska (1-4): Well, it’s really more of the same. Nebraska found itself in a one-possession game with plenty of opportunities to win, but the Huskers made a fatal mistake late in the game. This loss also guarantees that, at best, Nebraska will end the year with a .500 record. A third-straight losing season under Scott Frost isn’t exactly what Huskers fans expected to see when he was hired to right the ship.